By Neeraj Gangal
MF Husain had been living in Dubai & London since death threats, cases against him.
India's renowned painter MF Husain who has been under attack from Hindu fundamentalists for his paintings of Hindu goddesses has been given Qatar nationality, according to media reports last week.
The 95-year-old artist had been living in Dubai and London since 1996 after right-winged Hindu groups issued death threats against him, filed hundreds of court cases, vandalised paintings and threatened galleries who wanted to display his works.
Husain became a centre of controversy after he painted a revered Hindu goddess in the nude.
According to AFP newswire, the Muslim artist told the NDTV news channel that he had no regrets about giving up his Indian passport, saying it was the only way he could continue working.
"At the age of 40, I would have fought them tooth and nail but I just wanted to concentrate only on my work. I don't want any disturbances," he said.
He added that he was now content to be a non-resident Indian and that he had no qualms about losing his nationality, as India does not allow dual citizenship.
"Ninety-nine percent of Indian people loved me and they still love me. I'm an Indian-origin painter. I will remain so to my last breath."
Husain is one of India's wealthiest painters -iIn 2008, one of his works fetched $1.6m at a Christie's auction in New York, AFP said.
Last week India's Home Secretary GK Pillai said Husain was free to return and that security would be provided for him if he wished, the newswire added.
MF Hussain is not exiled, but has chosen his place of residence. And I don't believe that 99% of the people love him, because more than 80% of Indians wouldn't have heard about him. Probably 1% of the total population will condone what he did in the name of art and another 1% would take the other extreme while the remaining 18% would be indifferent. I guess he means 99% of the people who know him personally love him!! As for me I am indifferent, but dislike the fact that he has received publicity and recognition because of controversy rather than good work. I guess at the age of 95 he wants to now live in peace compared to say 10 years ago.
It is a sad day for India and the art world that the living legend of Modern Art MF Hussain had to take up Qatari citizenship. Art is the only media that a person can express his feelings and thoughts freely. If that is restricted in the name of religion then we have to redefine either religion or art. However good luck for MFH - whom I had a chance to meet at the Islamic museum in Qatar recently. Thanks to Sheika Mouza Al Misned for doing this happen and I only hope some kind of polarisation is beginning to happen and India's democratic credentials are under a big question